UPDATE: Influenza activity is elevated in most of the United States. Learn more about stating healthy with the following information:
What is the flu?
The flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, even hospitalization or death in some cases. People over 65, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk of serious complications from the flu.
What are the symptoms?
The flu is different from a cold and can start suddenly. Symptoms can include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
You can’t know for certain if you have the flu based on symptoms alone, but this information applies to both the flu and flu-like illnesses.
How is the flu spread?
Influenza is contagious and usually spread by droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people up to six feet away. People can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose. Once you are infected with the flu, you can infect others one day before you notice symptoms and up to a week after you get sick.
How can the flu be prevented?
- The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every fall, and getting a shot is especially important for people in the high-risk categories mentioned above. Since infants under 6 months are not approved for the vaccine, those around them should get immunized.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
What if I get sick with the flu?
- Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Most people recover at home with rest, fluids, and pain relievers. You should get medical help if you experience breathing problems, altered consciousness, or have a medical condition that worsens with illness.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
For more information, visit the CDC website
Also see this link from Intermountain Health